Wings fall in Minot, head to Game 5 Sunday

The Aberdeen Wings will have a rare Sunday matchup inside the Odde Ice Center.

After leading the Central Division Semifinals over the Minot Minotauros two games to none, the Wings found difficulty on the road, dropping Friday’s game 4-2 after falling 3-2 Thursday night. That means the series will move to a fifth game, with the puck hitting the ice at 7:15 p.m. in Aberdeen.

In a similar fashion to Thursday’s game, the two teams were scoreless after the first 20 minutes of hockey. And, just like Thursday’s game, the Wings got on the board first in the second period when Liam Fraser got a perfect pass from Natan Vertes to go backdoor at the 5:05 mark to give themselves the 1-0 lead. Fraser notched his first postseason goal, while Vertes got his first assist and Clay Cosentino picked up his second. The score remained the same heading into the final intermission.

That’s when Minot got hot. Blaine Warnert scored three unanswered goals, the first at the 8:36 mark, the second at the 15:23 mark on the power play, and his third at the 17:39 mark. The Wings pulled goalie Jake Sibell to give themselves the man-advantage, but the Minotauros’ Brett Roloson found the empty net at the 18:52 mark to give his team the 4-1 lead.

Aberdeen had a little left in the tank and piled on the pressure — and it paid off when Kevin MacKay got around Keenan Rancier to put the Wings within two at the 19:20 mark. That was his first postseason goal, and Payton Matsui’s and Kyle Gaffney’s second postseason assists. But it was too little, too late and Minot found themselves forcing a fifth winner-takes-all game.

Aberdeen outshot Minot in all three periods — 14-9 in the first, 12-11 in the second and 14-10 in the third — taking 40 shots overall while holding Minot to 30. Sibell stopped 26 of 29 shots, while Rancier remained hot between the pipes, denying 38 of 40. The Wings held Minot to 1-2 on the power play while going 0-1.

Wings fans can purchase tickets ahead of Sunday’s game online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com. Fans can also purchase $10 general admission tickets at any of the four C-Express locations in Aberdeen, with additional purchase. The game’s audio is always broadcast over Hub City Radio’s 94.1 The Rock.